Today [24 July 2023], UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove have announced a long-term plan for ‘regeneration’ of housing across the UK, which includes ‘transformational change’ in Cambridge, central London and Leeds.
As part of this change, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) hopes to deliver better transport connections for local communities.
Today’s announcement follows the commitment in the Levelling Up White Paper to regenerate 20 places across the nation and includes the commitment to building one million new homes over the course of this parliament.
Through its ‘Docklands 2.0’ vision for East London, DLUHC has outlined plans to introduce better east-to-west transport connections in the capital.
The proposed transformation of Cambridge includes the building of a quarter with new environmental and social infrastructure, including transport resources.
Responding to the announcement, Cllr Mike Davey, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “We welcome any proposals from central government that help to address the problems identified in our emerging Local Plan for Greater Cambridge, most notably the water shortage, a continuing housing affordability crisis and a lack of sustainable transport infrastructure.”
A Cambridge Delivery Group, led by chair of Homes England Peter Freeman and supported by £5m in government funding, will be set up to help deliver the infrastructural changes in Cambridge and build on its existing strengths in active travel.
In a speech to today, Gove said: “We occupy more land with fewer people. That approach has not only been inefficient in planning terms – it’s cost us in productivity.
“…Failing to densify means longer commutes, a longer wait for a plumber or ambulance, and more vehicle journeys leading to congestion and pollution.
“At present, only 40% of people living in our great cities can get into the city centre in 30 minutes by public transport, compared to over two thirds of the population in comparable European cities.”
As part of the speech, Gove cited government plans to transform the city centre in Leeds, and how it will explore how to establish a West Yorkshire mass transit system that could better open up the city to new workers and economic growth.
The government has already committed £40m to West Yorkshire Combined Authority to develop such a system, which could offer greener, faster and more reliable travel options for the whole region. The works also form part of the government’s £96bn Integrated Rail Plan.
Gove also signalled to the government’s ambition to regenerate Manchester through a new partnership with Great British Railways. This is intended to ‘turbocharge travel’ across the newly-integrated Bee Network for public transport, which will offer multimodal travel tickets and is set to be fully rolled out by 2030.